Tracey Naylor Tymczyszyn
I am looking forward to the fall as we embark on your scholar’s educational journey together. Throughout the spring and summer, our staff has been thinking critically about how to deliver our school vision in new and innovative ways while consciously addressing the needs that existed persistently in a pre-pandemic educational landscape.
This moment in history presents our community (both the immediate and larger) with significant uncertainty and it’s natural to crave answers along with a clear path forward (especially if our livelihood and safety is on the line). That said, the future of education in our nation is in flux and as a cohort of educators at Hazelwood, we are preparing ourselves to be comfortable with change. To be honest, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The urgency, in essence, will force us to be more adaptive which can transform the system in powerful ways—as long as we don’t allow the urgency to diminish when we return to a brick and mortar school building. I’m reminded of my grandmother (sorry GG) who had a heart attack a few years ago and made a commitment to change her lifestyle habits. The commitment was easy to make in the beginning; but, over time, her motivation dwindled and her efforts did not result in the long-lasting impact she hoped to achieve.
To maintain this energy, the question we seek to explore is: “How can we adapt to the uncertainties of our new reality in order to thrive?” I know it seems strange, but as an administrator, the strategic (system-wide) decisions are hard to influence but the tactical details (what we try to do and how we monitor for effectiveness) will matter a lot and they are OURS to plan and execute. As we work through those tactical details as a school, being thoughtful, conscious, and collaborative are important priorities.
As you may have read in recent communication, learning will look different. Scholars will have access to live instruction daily with predictable routines, opportunities to connect with peers, structured and systematic support for scholars with disabilities (and those learning English), opportunities to receive 1:1 or small group support, and on-going feedback and progress monitoring (among other things).
On a larger scale, our model at Hazelwood will be grounded in the Communities of Inquiry (COI) Framework (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 1999; Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2003; Garrison, 2011) which is a research-based, integrative model of e-learning that works towards a learner-centered, inquiry-based experience for scholars. Our model will also include an emphasis on effort, self-efficacy, and other forms of student self-regulation by embedding the unique contexts, passions, interests, and needs (essentially the whole learner) into each scholar’s online educational experience.
See Figure 1: COI Framework adapted by Harvard University to include a more learner-centered approach as suggested by Shea and Bidjerano (2010).
Several staff members (and the administration) have been engaging in coursework with Harvard University to help us understand and apply this model in our planning for the fall and our school leadership team has been busy preparing goals and tactics that will guide future decision-making as a school. It’s important to be intentional about our actions so that we can achieve long lasting impact beyond the pandemic.
As we move forward, I will communicate with you weekly and share any updates that we have as a school community.
Thank you all for your encouragement during these difficult times and we look forward to collaborating with you to make this year a powerful learning experience for your scholar.
Tracey Naylor Tymczyszyn